The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
Half an hour into watching "S.W.A.T.," I realized the movie offered pleasures that action movies hardly ever allow themselves anymore: 1. The characters had dialogue and occupied a real plot, which involved their motivations and personalities.
2. The action scenes were more or less believable. The cops didn't do anything that a real cop might not really almost be able to do, if he were in very, very good training.
I started taking notes along these lines, and here are a few of my jottings: When a cop shoots at a robber in a hostage situation, the hostage is wounded. The chief punishes two hot shots with demotions, instead of pulling their badges and guns and kicking them off the force. When the bad guy steals a cop car, we expect a chase, but he backs up and crashes it within a block. When the chase leads down to the Los Angeles subway system, the cops approach a stopped train, board it, and look for their quarry. Astonishingly, there is not a fight scene atop a speeding train. In a S.W.A.T. team training scene, the trainees are running toward a target while shooting, and somebody asks, "No rolls?" The veteran cop in charge replies: "They only roll in John Woo movies--not in real life." That's the point with "S.W.A.T." This isn't a John Woo movie, or "Bad Boys 2," or any of the other countless movies with wall-to-wall action and cardboard characters. It isn't exactly real life, either, and I have to admit some of the stunts and action scenes are a shade unlikely, but the movie's ambition is essentially to be the same kind of police movie they used to make before special effects upstaged human beings.
The result is one of the best cop thrillers since "Training Day." Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell co-star, playing the time-honored roles of veteran officer and young hothead. Michelle Rodriguez and James Todd Smith (a k a LL Cool J), both effective actors, give depth to the S.W.A.T. team. And Olivier Martinez, who played Diane Lane's lover in "Unfaithful," is the smirking playboy arms dealer who offers a $100 million reward to anyone who springs him from custody.